Last night, workers at General Motors' CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario went on strike. GM and Unifor Local 88 - the group that represents about 2,750 workers at the plant - were unable to reach a tentative contract before a deadline of 10:59 P.M. last night. This is the first time since 1996 that Canadian autoworkers went on strike against an automaker.
"While General Motors of Canada and our Unifor partners have made very positive progress on several issues over the past weeks, the Company is disappointed that we were not able to complete a new agreement. We encourage Unifor to resume negotiations and to continue working together to secure a competitive agreement," GM said in a statement on Sunday.
You might be wondering why a strike is taking place in the first place as GM already worked out a deal with Unifor back in September. That's because Unifor members at CAMI are under a different contract than workers at other plants, meaning they were not involved in the negotiations.
CAMI is home to the Chevrolet Equinox and used to build the GMC Terrain, before being sent down to Mexico. The loss of the Terrain meant 400 workers were laid off, while another 200 workers took early retirement.
Unifor Local 88 President Dan Borthwick said the two sides are very much apart on “language issues, economic issues that are still outstanding, and, most importantly, job security.” Borthwick also said GM wouldn't budge on Unifor's demand by making a long-term commit through new products and investments.
"We put our best foot forward, and we don’t believe the company is serious about our membership’s demands,” he said to Automotive News.
Stalling production at CAMI raises some headaches. As The Truth About Cars note, various operations such as the engine and transmission plant in St. Catharines, Ontario and numerous suppliers will be hampered by this strike.
There are concerns if the strike goes long-term. The popularity of the Equinox and Terrain has been booming thanks to the large increase in crossovers. Data from Automotive News shows that Chevrolet dealers in U.S. had about a 53 day supply of Equinoxes at the start of the month, well below the 74-day supply last month. While GM also builds the Equinox in two plants in Mexico, CAMI is where the majority of the models are built. Through August, the San Luis Potosi and Ramos Arizpe plants in Mexico built a combined total of 40,017 units. Meanwhile at CAMI, 132,288 Equinox models rolled off the line. Losing CAMI for a time could mean a tighter supply of Equinox models.